NFV Projects & Standards NEWS

ADTRAN Details NFV, SDN Strategy, Including VNF Bundling

By Paula Bernier August 12, 2015

ADTRAN was telling its network functions virtualization and software-defined networking story at a press event this week at its Huntsville headquarters. The company unveiled some NFV and SDN news at the Connect gathering, at which it provided a list of the customer premises functions it will be offering as software-only solutions, details on its bundling strategy regarding those functions, and how it expects to integrate cloud-controlled network programmability and self-activated cloud delivery into its product line.

Among the CPE functions ADTRAN will be offering as virtual network functions are enterprise session border controllers, firewalls, routers, and voice quality monitoring. They are in limited introduction now and will be generally available this fall. The company noted that the fact that its software is already modularized will make that task much easier.

And while customers will be able to obtain those and some other ADTRAN features and functions as separate VNFs, the company is also bundling the above-named collection of functions as a single VNF. In a presentation yesterday, Chris Thompson, director of the customer devices portfolio at ADTRAN, noted that a 2014 Infonetics Research service provider survey indicated the most important NFV use cases are business CPE, at 52 percent; mobile core, at 45 percent; and service chaining—which in this case involves combining multiple virtual functions to create a service—at 34 percent.

Image via Shutterstock

However, the very idea of NFV and SDN is driven in large part by the telcos’ desire to avoid vendor lock in. And while ADTRAN emphasized that its goal in introducing the bundled VNF option is about making it easier for its service provider customers to purchase and employ VNFs, some could view the move in a different light.

The company this week also talked about how it’s bringing programmability, and the ability for service providers to enable their customers to use carrier portals to activate services, by extending the functionality of its broadband, enterprise, and Wi-Fi solutions. ADTRAN refers to its efforts on these fronts, and its overall NFV and SDN activities, as its Future Network State vision. In the next several weeks the company plans to offer more details on its progress related to the Future Network State vision, which also involves implementation of open APIs.

Robert Conger, ADTRAN’s AVP of carrier strategy, yesterday talked about how end users have become accustomed to use apps to, for example, buy airplane tickets and select seats on their flights. The idea of enabling end users to use portals to set up and change their communications services is the same basic idea, he indicated.

“To achieve that you have to have the network fully programmable,” he said.

“Service agility is key,” he added. “Users want to be able to activate services from these portals.”

A handful of communications carriers have in recent months introduced the ability for business customers to provision their own services, such as Ethernet and IP VPN connections. That list includes AT&T, Masergy Communications, and NTT Communications.

But while these carriers have already gone commercial with such services, and AT&T has announced several of its Domain 2.0 suppliers, several ADTRAN folks said that it’s early days for NFV and SDN, and Conger noted that the access equipment awards have yet to be announced for AT&T’s Domain 2.0 effort.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

Executive Editor, TMC

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